Two days after the Matt Moulson-Thomas Vanek trade and I am still unsure if this was the right decision for Garth Snow to have made. Tomas Vanek is an all around fantastic player with an exceptional pedigree as a goal scorer. He has been a consistent goal scorer over the last several years and was the driving force behind the Buffalo Sabres offense during his time there. The most remarkable aspect of this is that he was able to accomplish this without a true number 1 center setting him up.
This is what makes the trade so intriguing ... the impact of playing on the same line with Johnny Tavares. This screams of the makings of a fantastic 1-2 punch that can elevate the play of this team and propel them (hopefully) to making a big splash as the season continues.
However, there is a flip side to the unknown in all of this: The chemistry of this team and the impact of seeing one of their own moving on.
Matt Moulson embodied the make-up of this team. He is an overachiever. He was written off by a couple teams only to find himself in a place nobody wanted to go and became an integral part of the rebuild. Garth Snow was lauded for finding Moulson and, in turn, Moulson rewarded Snow for taking a chance on him by becoming a consistent 30-goal scorer during his tenure. He battles in the trenches, gets "dirty" goals, takes a punishing beating in front of the net, and positions himself perfectly to take advantage of rebounds. He did the dirty work for the Isles.
Then he became expendable. What does this say to the other guys on the team? Who is going to take on his former role? Who else becomes expendable?
Chemistry is not a tangible object. Chemistry is a feeling; a kind of karma that cannot be measured or proven yet can disappear in an instant. When chemistry is present, there is no wondering or thinking prior to setting up a play. It is natural and every moving part knows its role without having second thoughts or doubt. It can be felt, sometimes, when a player is out of the lineup due to injury, but that is fleeting because that player will eventually return to the lineup. In this instance, the player has been removed entirely from locker room. All his nuances, his personality, his quirky traits that he brought to the room are now gone in a flash. All the off-ice intangibles will be felt the most. That is where chemistry is developed, off the field or ice, and the relationships that build from there translate to seamless play on the field or ice.
How do you think the Islanders will respond to this?
I feel the Isles will have a tough time adjusting to life without Matty Moulson. I think it is going to take about 5-6 games before we see the Islanders rebound and then, if Tavares and Vanek can start developing the on-ice chemistry, the team will respond by playing better. If I were Tavares, I would be thoroughly pissed off. We all know he is a stud but i wonder if it was Moulson that allowed JT to elevate his play? Did Moulson's play allow for more open ice so JT could do his thing? Who really knows, but it sure seemed to me that the Isles stumbled last night against the Rags....